Inbox: What is Astros’ plan for Deadline?

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The Astros’ starting rotation could be at full strength, health-wise, by the end of the month, with Collin McHugh set to return Saturday and Dallas Keuchel likely making his final rehab start the same day. With the resurgence of Mike Fiers and the development of Brad Peacock as starters, the Astros suddenly have a wealth of rotation options. They can still upgrade and then make a tough decision about who goes to the bullpen.

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Relief pitching is a huge need at this point, especially with Will Harris on the disabled list. One name to keep an eye on is Orioles closer Zach Britton. A lefty who was a wipeout closer last year for Baltimore, he’d be the perfect addition.

Justin Verlander would be a nice addition, but he’s making way too much money for the Astros to take him, in my opinion. He’s making $28 million this year and each of the next two years, which takes him through his age 36 season. Verlander is the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner who’s had tons of postseason appearances, but Sonny Gray is younger, cheaper and has more upside at this point.

Gray, 27, has two more years of arbitration-eligibility, and he is making $3.575 million this year. He is also rounding into form. Gray is 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his last five starts, and he would be at upgrade at several spots in the Astros’ rotation.

I still believe outfielder Kyle Tucker is untouchable, but that doesn’t mean the Astros won’t be swayed eventually to trade him. Tucker is 20 years old, hits left-handed and has put up very strong numbers at Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting .301 with a .360 on-base percentage with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 36 games. It’s not a stretch to believe he could be in the big leagues at 21 years old, which is why other teams want him as well. The Astros just have to decide if trading their top position-player prospect is worth what they’ll be getting in return.

The only other prospect that may be untouchable is the Astros’ 2016 first-round pick, right-hander Forrest Whitley. Even if Tucker and Whitley are off the table, the Astros have other prospects to get trades done.

I just don’t see it. I’m not sure the Mets are going to trade him, anyway.

Yes. Manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday that Alex Bregman would be play shortstop this weekend in Baltimore. With Carlos Correa on the disabled list, Hinch said he’d like Marwin Gonzalez to still move around the field, which is a role he’s used to playing. Bregman will play some shortstop, with Colin Moran and perhaps Yuli Gurriel getting some reps at third as well.

Of course. The Astros have a 15 1/2-game lead in the division and still have a strong lineup, even without Correa for the next six to eight weeks. How many teams can lose one of their best players and plug in a capable bat like Gonzalez? The Astros need Correa back for the postseason, for sure, but his absence for two months shouldn’t hinder their chances.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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